Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Flirting with Props, Part 3

I hope you all had a pleasant Memorial Day weekend! Here in New England we had a little foretaste of summer on Thursday and Friday, with temperatures in the low nineties…definitely fan weather! So today we’ll be learning about how to flirt with fans (preferably the handheld model and not the type that requires electricity!)…but first we need to announce the winner of last week’s Name That Mystery Object contest!

The correct answer was indeed a skirt lifter—a lady could fasten the toothed clamp end onto the lower edge of her dress, and be able to lift her skirt slightly to avoid muddy or dusty areas (or otherwise unpleasant patches of ground—remember that this was the age of horses!) when out promenading. Jane, you were correct about it being a skirt lifter, but a chatelaine is an entirely different thing--it was a brooch or clip with chains to which a lady could attach little necessities, like a notepad, scissors, needle-case, pencil, or thimble-holder (here's an image of one.) And the winner, drawn from among the correct guesses, is Ammietia!

Ammietia, please send me your mailing address through the contact form on my website so I can get an ARC of Betraying Season out to you. And stayed tuned for next month when I have another mystery object for you all to puzzle over!

Now, on to how to flirt with fans. Mr. Shafer’s intro to fan flirtations in his Secrets of Life Revealed (Baltimore, 1877) is short and to the point:

The fan is also used for flirtations, and the following rules govern the subject:

Carrying in right hand: You are too willing
Carrying in right hand in front of face: Follow me
Carrying in left hand: Desirous of an acquaintance
Closing it: I wish to speak with you
Drawing across the forehead: We are watched
Drawing across the cheek: I love you
Drawing across the eyes: I am sorry
Drawing through the hand: I hate you
Dropping: We will be friends
Fanning fast: I am engaged
Fanning slow: I am married
Letting it rest on right cheek: Yes
Letting it rest on left cheek: No
Open and shut: You are cruel
Open wide: Wait for me
Shut: I have changed
Placing it on the right ear: You have changed
Twirling it in left hand: I love another
With handle to lips: Kiss me

Well! Again I see a lot of potential for miscommunication here, especially for those of us who tend to be klutzy! Then again, we might end up with a wide circle of acquaintances that way…

Come back next week when I'll finish up this series with parasol flirtations.


Regina Scott said...

Okay, so using the flirtation with gloves and the flirtation with fans advice, the young lady in the picture is asking "Do you love me?" and answering it herself with "Yes!" :-)

Marissa Doyle said...

This is true...I wonder if Mr. Shafer took into consideration that conflicting messages could be sent with one's various accoutrements?!

Dara said...

Both your points are exactly what I was thinking! I wonder if one would use just one of these forms of flirtation at a time or not...it could send quite an interesting message otherwise!

Emily Ruth said...

Good heavens! I think I'd rather just not wear gloves or a fan :\

QNPoohBear said...

I have heard of the language of the fan from the friends of the Astor family at Astors' Beechwood mansion in Newport. It all sounds so very complicated! I spent the weekend watching the British TV mini series Lost in Austen and there's a scene where Amanda learns to use the fan. There was potential for much more comedy and I would like to have seen it.

Lynnae said...

And I thought texting was confusing!

Christina Farley said...

I love fans. They have some really pretty hand painted ones here.

There is definitely something seductive about fans!

Tricia Tighe said...

I'd definitely be afraid to even pick up a fan! Thanks for posting the photo of the chatelaine. I've always wondered what those were like. Do you know if they were pinned to the dress or attached to a belt?

Marissa Doyle said...

Tricia, the answer is yes :)--some were made to clip onto a belt, some were made to pin to a bodice, some were made like a necklace, and some (though I can't imagine this was at all comfortable or practical) were made to wear like a ring.

Tricia Tighe said...

Thanks for the info, Marissa. I can't imagine wearing a ring chatelaine. That would certainly mess up my flirting using fans and gloves. :D